People have become more aware of their rights, says equality commissioner ({{commentsTotal}})

Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner Mari-Liis Sepper Source: (Scanpix/Postimees)

Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner Mari-Liis Sepper processed 192 complaints last year. This is 65 percent more complaints than in 2013.

Whereas in the previous years the number of men and women, who have complained about being discriminated against on the basis of their gender, familial obligations, age, disability, ethnicity, skin color, sexual orientation or beliefs, has been about the same, 2014 saw an influx of appeals by women.

Sepper said an increasing amount of complaints are launched by expecting mothers and young women, who have returned to work after maternity leave. "It is actually a good sign that many women have understood that employers have no right to end their contracts because they have fell pregnant or are raising small children. There is a distinct increase in awareness and this is very positive indeed," she said.

She added that not all of the people who approach her seek to start official proceedings against their employers, many simply want to make the commissioner aware of the injustice that befell them.

As a result of the cases that were taken to a labor dispute committee, employers in Estonia have had to pay out a total of 71,000 euros in compensation.

"We have to applaud the people who have decided to go through with the long and emotionally draining process of defending their rights. It is thanks to them that the employers hopefully alter their behavior and honor the rights of the expecting and young mothers," Sepper said, adding that in 2015, the commission will try to raise more awareness among the employers about their obligations and responsibilities.

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